Hey, Mr. Postman!

* Lance Cpl. Ryan Henderson was on peacekeeping duty in Kosovo last month with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and wanted to write his dad at home in Northern Virginia. But stationery was unavailable. So the resourceful 20-year-old tore a postcard-size piece of cardboard from a ration box of canned pineapples, scrawled a reassuring note and the word "free" in the upper-right corner--and sent it off, stampless, by military mail. On July 3, the makeshift card was delivered to Ryan's dad, U.S. Postmaster General William J. Henderson, who proudly displayed it this week at an agency meeting, reports The Post's Bill McAllister.

"It was postmarked June 28th and I got it before the 4th of July," the elder Henderson told us. "At a time when everyone's focus is on the Internet, here's a case where my son was in Kosovo, ripped off the back of a cardboard box and sent me a message. I think that's pretty cool." So do we.

Bob Barker: Ki-yi on Down!

* At 75, Bob Barker looks marvelous. He's a silver-maned six-footer, smooth-skinned and tanned to perfection. "I'm in good shape," the major-domo of "The Price Is Right" told us the other day. His secret? Karate! "It's great exercise," said Barker, who gets his kicks in the garage of his Hollywood home, shrieking "ki-yi loud enough to scare away my enemies," he said. "Chuck Norris was my first coach. He was once a guest on 'Truth or Consequences' "--Barker's old show--"and he did a karate demo. I was so impressed that I decided to try it, too." He's been using the Korean Tang Soo Do method for a quarter-century, attaining the rank of red belt--a notch below black belt.

All of which has made him a bionic game show host, taping his five-days-a-week show for the past 28 years with no intention of retiring any time soon. "I thoroughly enjoy it. If I had something else I wanted to do, I would've done it long ago," Barker said as autograph-seekers mobbed him at a Capitol Hill news conference spotlighting the evils of elephant abuse in India.

The Ticks Are Coming!The Ticks Are Coming!

We thought our good friend Harold Ickes was pursuing no nobler cause than making Hillary Rodham Clinton New York's junior senator. Wrong! Now that summer tick season's here, Clinton's political consigliere is the modern-day Paul Revere, warning the populace against these Lyme disease- spreading little bloodsuckers. "It could amount to the analogue of the Black Plague of the Middle Ages!" Ickes tells us. "This infestation is running rampant throughout the country! People are contracting this horrendous disease without knowing it, playing golf and doing other high jinks in the high grasses!" We hear you, Harold.

Eyes Wide for Bradley

* Actor-director Sydney Pollack has a meaty role in Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," but yesterday he was more interested in talking about the man he believes should be the next president. "I just think Bill Bradley is a very rare politician," he told us from New York, where he was screening his latest directorial effort, "Random Hearts," which opens in October. "I don't like politicians. Most of us don't like politicians. They're a necessary evil," he said. "But Bill is a nonpolitician politician--with terrific character, terrific morality, a terrific sense of ethics." Pollack added politely: "I don't dislike Al Gore."

Pollack--who recently organized an $800,000 fund-raiser for the former New Jersey senator and Knicks basketball star--fell under Bradley's spell when they met a decade ago at investment banking guru Herbert Allen's annual mogul retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho. "I'm one of the poor guys," Pollack claimed.

THIS JUST IN . . .

* Where does California resident Cheryl Tiegs go when she wants outrageously expensive glassware? This week she placed a $1,600 telephone order for a dozen lead-crystal loving cups with the A Mano shop in Georgetown. "She has this really sexy whispery voice," owner Adam Mahr tells us.

* FreeRepublic.com, an anti-Clinton Web site, is apparently too nutty, anti- semitic, anti-gay and racist for cyber- gossips Matt Drudge and Lucianne Goldberg, who have cut all links to it. But best- selling Brit Chris- topher Hitchens has agreed to speak at a FreeRepublic dinner after a July 24 "Treason Is the Reason" rally at Lafayette Park. "I'll speak at any anti-Clinton event," Hitchens explained. "The context to me is unimportant."

Got a hot tip or a nagging question? Dish with Lloyd Grove today at 9 a.m. EDT at http://washingtonpost.com/liveonline.

CAPTION: William Henderson, holding the missive from son Ryan, left.

CAPTION: Cheryl Tiegs.

CAPTION: Bob Barker, fit as ever.

CAPTION: Pollack and his "Eyes" co-stars, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise.

CAPTION: Harold Ickes and his sworn enemy, the deer tick.